A marketing plan always starts with a solid foundation – a clear understanding of what is essential as a marketer. Without a solid foundation, it’s all too easy for the plan to be swept away with the next big trend or innovation that is “in” at the moment. The resulting plan might look fabulous at the time of drafting but, in the blink of an eye, become obsolete.
What exactly is essential as a marketer? The answer to this question is as varied as the industry itself. To start with, let’s consider some of the basic essentials:
- A clear idea of the market size and market sharing
- An understanding of consumer behavior
- Actionable intelligence (AKA the “secret sauce”) regarding competitors
- A strong team
These are all essential as a marketer, but it is not enough to simply have them – you need to know how to make them work for you. Let’s examine each one in turn.
1. Market size and Market share
The first and most basic step to building a marketing plan is to figure out the size of the market and the share of the market that you intend to capture. Start by considering your product and the industry you’re in. Then, take time to research and analyze the competition. You don’t need to be limited by what you know – expand your thinking and consider what the rest of the market looks like and how you can reach them. This is important because it allows you to craft focused marketing strategies for different platforms and markets. It also helps you to set goals and measure the results of your efforts.
For example, if you’re selling shoes online, you might want to consider the size of the market for men’s dress shoes or women’s athletic shoes, and how much of that market share you intend to capture. You can use your product and industry knowledge to quickly determine how much of the market you’re facing – if you have a solid understanding of the size of your market, you can quickly deduce what efforts you should be making to capture a certain percentage of the market.
If you’re just starting out, consider using an e-commerce tool to track the overall size of the market for your product category. Then, you can research and determine the share of the market you’re aiming for. Once you have that information, you can set goals for yourself and benchmark your performance against those goals. If you don’t have solid goals, it’s all too easy for your marketing efforts to be haphazard and ineffective – you want to avoid that predicament by taking the time to set specific and measurable goals.
2. Consumer Behavior
When you have a clear idea of the size of the market, you can consider how and why your target audience behaves the way they do. Why are they buying your product or service? From an economic standpoint, consider the factors that compel a consumer to purchase yours rather than the competition’s. What makes your product or service special?
From an innovation standpoint, think about the future and how you intend to adapt to changing consumer demands. How can you make your product or service stand out from the rest?
Depending on how savvy a consumer you are aiming for, you may have to consider more than one aspect of consumer behavior. Here are some of the key issues to take into account:
- How and when do they search for products or services like yours?
- What else do they need or want?
- What does your product or service offer that the competition doesn’t?
- Are there any other products or competitors in your product category that might hinder your growth?
- What is their general attitude towards the industry? Are they optimistic or pessimistic?
- How can you leverage social media to get the word out about your product?
By taking the time to consider all of these factors, you’ll have a much greater chance of crafting a marketing plan that is both effective and relevant. Don’t just consider your product and the industry you’re in – take the time to get to know your target consumer and everything about their lives. This will prove to be much more effective in the long run.
Now that you have a clear idea of the size of the market and the share of the market you intend to capture, you can turn your attention to the competitors. You don’t need to be limited by what you know – instead, consider what the rest of the market looks like and how you can compete with them. You can use your research into the competitive landscape to understand the factors that are driving consumer demand and behavior in your product category.
By taking the time to consider the competitors, you put yourself in a better position to craft a marketing strategy that will beat your competition. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – instead, you can use the information you’ve gathered to quickly compare your product to the competition’s and determine which one will best suit your needs. Consider the strength of the competition, any upcoming trends or innovations, and the economics of production and compare these to your own business model. Then, you can decide which product is best for you.
You’re often asked about the strength of your competition when applying for a job or searching for a new business partner. Having a clear view of the competitors in your industry is vital for your business growth – consider how you can outsmart and outmaneuver your competition instead of simply competing for market share. You might be doing the latter and it’s working for you – but keep in mind this is merely a short-term fix. Eventually, you’ll need to outsmart and outmaneuver your competition in order to secure sustainable growth and an eventual victory.
4. Actionable Intelligence
Actionable intelligence is that unique mixture of information and insights that you can use to quickly determine what strategy to pursue. In other words, if you don’t have the strategic thinking and analysis down, you don’t have the intelligence to quickly determine what action to take. Having this type of intelligence is critical to the effectiveness of your marketing plan. It allows you to quickly determine the next step in your strategy and the resources you need to take to successfully complete your plan.
When you start off, consider using a tool like Mint to keep track of all the important details regarding your marketing strategy. Then, as you progress, you can quickly determine the results of your efforts. If you don’t have this type of information, it’s all too easy to lose track of what you’ve already done and how you’re progressing. Keep track of your progress and act on any insights you gain along the way. This will prove to be much more effective in the long run – and give you the competitive edge you need to succeed.
A marketing plan is only as effective as the people behind it. You, as a marketer, should be committed to the success of the plan and willing to back it up with sound actionable intelligence and an aggressive strategy. Start by pitching in with the development of the plan – consider what you know about your product and the industry, and put this to work by pitching in with the development of the plan. Take the time to identify the skills you need to make the plan a reality – how much financial backing do you have? Who else do you need to contact in order to make this plan a success?
Once you’ve developed the essential components of the marketing plan, it’s time to take it to the next level. To begin with, you need to flesh out the details regarding your product. What is it? Where can I buy it? What do I need to know about legal and regulatory issues?
As a business owner, you’re aware of the many legal and regulatory issues that can arise from selling a product or offering a service in the marketplace. If you’re not sure how these issues will impact you, then it’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer who is experienced in e-commerce, marketing, and business strategy. Having an experienced lawyer by your side can help you navigate these complex waters.